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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  March 16, 2014 5:00pm-7:01pm EDT

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but based on what aaron mckinney had told her, she said what his top and his heir and russell are the fireside. nokia made an advance on that and it embarrassed them, humiliated them in front of their friends and they decided to take matthew out and beat him up to teach them a lesson not to, just repeat old. well, there were other iterations of the story. at time of aaron mckinney's trial as part of his a panic defense, matthew i., too had been a lark, but after they had left the bar, airing, russell and matthew after driving through town where the other end of town near wal-mart that matthew reached over and grabbed him and he was at that it caused
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him to explode because matthew grabbed him. there were a variety of other version that were told around his gay panic. i had interviewed aaron mckinney and russell henderson asked tentatively. i've interviewed chris price in chastity peace be extensively. all four admitted to me that the story about matthew making an advance was really essentially an alibi. aaron told kristen and in my opinion anyway this was kind of a defend but it was a story at aaron and christine decide it was some kind of a defensive nails who enlisted the help of russell henderson in chastity paisley telling that story that
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decide to do this matthew making a unwanted tape advance. i want to read you one short -- this is a short letter and this was at least obvious to you at the time early in the case. this came out later. when i was through my research at the courthouse, this really struck me very much. i kept looking at it, examining it. this was a letter that aaron mckinney wrote, a handwritten letter part of the official record that aaron smuggled to wrestle at the albany county detention center. this was after they were arrested and aaron was essentially rising russell about the scenario they should use to explain the attack. hey homeboy, when we could
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acquire if they tries together or separate, they should hear you say what i had. be a new was getting foxed up at the bar and when we was asked to leave, not jeopardize us for a ride home so we gave him a ride. when we got out there, he tried to get on me until i started -- and i started kicking his past. at no time did we know he was gay until he tried to get on me. the reason that told me he lived in imperial height is because he wanted to give me the dirt please so we could get funky. that's all i've got for now. i'm sure i will think of more later. so if you hear aaron mckinney's own words there, now another version.
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matthew s. for another ride home and that is why is is your driving and not wanted to get into a funky place, which contradicts other things erin had made in statement. ..
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buying and selling of drugs. they had been dealing for three years before this was well documented. for three years before this crime took place erin had been addicted and he was selling meth. he had been on the radar of law enforcement here in the talon and so a bunch of his friends as well that were dealing that kind of on a small scale. so, you know, looking at just a couple of those factors, one is
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they are not strangers but there is a personal relationship and there's also an involvement of drugs. that really caught my attention and that was somewhat midway through my investigation. so i went on to educate myself about methamphetamine. i contacted people that had worked in wyoming and in the rocky mountain region nationally and even internationally to learn about this drug and i learned a lot about it and there are some things in the buck. what i don't need to tell the folks here but just as a reminder, 1998 when this crime happened in wyoming, methamphetamine buzz just beginning to become a serious problem here. in the course of my research i interviewed a deal or a former bartender here in the layer any ultimately in the early 2,000, he ended up serving time in a
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federal prison for dealing and he explained to me that he was one of the first people to bring to laramie in 1993. so that was starting to take the mid-90s but was certainly a problem by 1998. the body to context is then was beginning to be a problem throughout the midwest in the states like missouri, iowa, kansas, nebraska and was moving into the rocky mountains west, wyoming, montana. it was already beginning to become a problem within a couple of years. a very high rates of crime. it eventually hit about 70% in the state of wyoming. it was related back to meth.
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that continues to today and it's been for several years. things have improved in some ways. i was driven by something very personal. once i learned about meth and i noticed also that the national media was not really reporting in any significant way on this story. that didn't really begin until somewhere around 2004, 2005 or 2006 that the magazines were reporting on. but on a very personal level in the 1980s the aids epidemic really started to hit by the mid-80s it was becoming catastrophic in new york and i ended up losing many friends i
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had. probably 75% maybe of the friends and acquaintances that i had in new york. this disease was a death sentence. but most people got sick and died. so for me there was a kind of posttraumatic stress associated by seeing one person after another go for this. jump ahead several years doing work on the story and learning about math meth. there were studies being done in the medical center showing that there were higher rates of hiv transmission among males that were using or abusing crystal
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meth. any of you know some of the effect of the drug in the early stages it makes you feel 100 feet tall. you're indestructible, your powerful. it makes you feel very good. and under the -- while using this drug people were feeling they didn't need to use any kind of protection. and it was helping the spread of the disease and learning that horrified me. in 1998 when this crime happened, the crystal meth epidemic in addition to the areas that i've mentioned it was moving through, it had already begun to move through the urban enclaves particularly new york san francisco and los angeles there was a crystal meth epidemic. people were not talking about it or reporting at the time but again that caught my attention. i been spending a lot of time in wyoming, and i realized that by 1998, it was a problem in denver
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where matthew had been living before he came into irony in the summer of 1998. eventually i learned quite a bit about matthew's life in denver before he came to layer. one of his very good friends who taught at the university of wyoming state in the house at the time matthew was attacked he had a drivers license. so eventually where they stuck me is into the drug world. i interviewed many friends of aaron mckinney that were involved in using and selling meth. i learned some things about who their suppliers were. some of those suppliers ended up serving prison time later and i
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learned about the group that matthew shepard had gotten involved with before he moved to layeand a few of those people he grown up here but moved to denver and they moved back and forth. so i don't want to ruin the reading of the book and go into a lot more details in terms of what i discovered about what was going on on the night of the crime. but i would like to ask because i highlighted a couple of places in the book, and i was wondering based on what i told you if maybe someone might offer a suggestion. what interests you in terms of what i'm talking about right now because i would like to read one more passage and then turned us over to a discussion in the conversation because i can't possibly go through, you know, everything that's in the book. i do have a passage regarding
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russell henderson that i would like to read that a short one that is there anything else, anything that folks here really interested in hearing me talk about or hearing me read something from the book? >> i'm interested in hearing how they feel about your book. >> i thought we would go to that later in questions that i would be happy to talk about that. there has been no direct response from dennis and judy. there was a statement that was released into the book has been out for about four months. and i believe that it was in early october the book had been out for a matter of a few days and there was a statement released by the matthew shepard foundation and i am paraphrasing it was a short statement and
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said we are not going to respond to any windows or rumors were conspiracy theory is and said that they would continue, they would carry forward. they would continue the work they set out to do in matthew's name. but there was not a single reference to anything in the book. any specifics saying this isn't true for this reason and that has been the case over the last four months in the book i had a long quote from jason who is currently the executive director of the matthew shepard foundation. they come from an interview after 2004.
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the picture painted by the media of matthew shepard is an accurate and also talks about methamphetamine and acknowledges that this was perhaps the worst methamphetamine related crime in the history of wyoming. you're welcome. >> what about the people that were in the jail cells in prison flex >> bought in prison but in the jail here in laye laramie. i got notes in 15 or 17 of the fellow inmates in jail why they were awaiting the trial for the murder. there were a couple of people on that list that i also
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interviewed myself because i found their names on that list. i contacted them and i interviewed them and one of them, one in particular who has had a long record for methamphetamine related offenses said that in the jail area and acknowledge to him that the whole thing happened because of drugs and drugs they were trying to get from matthew shepard. >> i see a hand in there. >> did you find anything that showed the effect or solidification of the public opinion after the movie was released as opposed to just the trial? >> when you're talking about the movie you mean the laramie project. i really can't say anything statistically, but what i can say is that, you know, the laramie project was a plate
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first began at the theatre center and ended up getting done in many places in the country and then it became an hbo film. since the film there has been what they called the epilogue ten years later. it's sort of a part number two to the project. when they did part number two they spoke about coming back to laramie and giving interviews and the implication was that they found it troubling that ten years earlier and more people seem to believe this was an anti-hate crime and when they came back ten years later that the percentage of people that believe that this was drug related had increased. i think what i will do is read just one passage here and if you
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have questions we have a microphone here in the lower right-hand portion of the auditorium that way everyone else in the auditorium can hear your question. >> i'm going to read a short passage about russell henderson and the reason is because when i came to the story idea needed based on what the media said that they were equally involved in this crime and i certainly understand what the murder statute is end of the role as an accomplice. but when i came here i thought that both of these men beat matthew to death and i thought that they had a motive and what i learned over time as i came to understand the relationship between aaron mckinney and matthew shepard is that erin did
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have a motive in fact he has motives, plural. russell didn't have a motive. that is in no way to excuse any of his actions that i would like to read to you because i have known both of these men now and i began communicating with them in 2002, so it is almost 12 years. i had visited him in prison. i.e., you know, have followed them over many years and they moved all over the country. they started here and they went to nevada to texas and oklahoma and then came back to wyoming. so i've gotten to know both of them quite well. this is an excerpt from chapter 12 is called indian springs and i'm not going to -- i'm going to take a couple of short excerpts to let you know what my thinking was early on in this investigation as it related to
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russell. other than matthew shepard himself, no one involved perplexed me more than russell henderson. i accepted as a fact that he had participated more or less equally in the beating matthew, an impression first solidified in the onslaught of media coverage following the attack. "time" magazine citin"time" magd police sources reported, quote, the kenny apparently taking turns with henderson began pounding him on the head with a 357 magnum revolver. other leading news organizations stated conclusively that both men beat matthew and according to the denver post the assailants kept hitting him until they believe he was dead. two weeks after matthew died at
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the u.s. news & world report said it was henderson that allegedly pistol whipped him. they were compressed by the media into a single person personality with an identical set of motives. "the new york times" was one of the few news organizations to hand at serious character differences. if russell henderson was a quiet follower of th the times statedn daytimes stated tendays after tn mckinney was the man with a short fuse a long after both of the men were convicted, confusion persisted over the nature of their involvement. nothing i could find in his personal histor history seems tt with the violence of the murder. in contrast he had a reputation for his temper as well as a juvenile truck or. as a bully he abused animals for
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the fun of it. after henderson's arrest for the 1998 attack his landlord described him to a reporter as quiet, polite, just your average male and the most american kid you could get. i have a hard time imagining him coming up with anything like this on his, she stated. it seems extremely out of character. skipping ahead a little bit. by the time of the first face-to-face interview in the spring of 2003 before that we didn't let her stand i also did a number of recorded phone interviews with both russell and aaron but at the time of the interview in spring of 2003 russell had been transferred from the wyoming penitentiary to
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a prison in the desert and he was then and his fifth year of his double life sentence. one purpose of the interview is to find out how involved russell really was and the violence inflicted on matthew shepard. matthew had been beaten so severely with the barrel of the gun that his school had been crushed. schoothey knew he would be monid by prison authorities but because of my doubts i had questioned him relentlessly anyway. his story was always the same. i've told you everything i know and i would even take a polygraph test to prove that to you. maybe since i have been plastered all over the tv as one of the killers people want me to be more involve involved than iy
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was. belief me, this life i have to live with the easier if that were true and i hope someday you will believe me but i understand what you don't. and there is a little break. how does a state prison with a one-hour drive through the hills from the extravagantly outside bellagio hotel in las vegas where i was staying for two nights. "the new york times" magazine had given me a travel budget at the last minute i got a low-priced package deal online leaving behind the commerce of thithe strip i soon found myself surrounded in every direction that made the horizon itself seem like a garage. i arrived at the prison wearing jeans with my head buzzed close
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to the scalp and was promptly advised i was being turned away because my attire was virtually identical to the inmate uniform. a female guard smiled at my dilemma. your haircut doesn't help. but she was also quick to give directions to a wal-mart back down the highway close to the edge of las vegas. if you hightail it you can buy yourself a new suit of clothes and be back in just over an hour she promised. sure enough when he was escorted into the visiting area he looked exactly as i had earlier right down to his scalp. russell is shorter than average with a compact slightly stocky build. as he joined me at a metal table in the middle-of-the-road i felt his glassy blue green eyes. he seemed intent on assessing
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everything about me before i had a chance to do the same to him. maybe it was a survival skill picked up in prison but from what i had already learned he had spent much of his life in a state of high alert as they faced each other his answers to my questions were flat. in early phone conversations he had also come across as exceedingly introverted and guarded. near the end of that first visit i asked how he was coping with two life sentences. without self-pity he answered i belong here for what i did. i am not sure what i expected him to say but i heard none of the usual complaints, that he was innocent or was framed by someone else. there was much i hoped he
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would've terrified that they and the next morning when i returned. instead i left the prison somewhat disappointed by his residence. the 1999 sentencing russell admitted that he drove the truck the night of matthew shepard was robbed and beaten and that it was he that tight matthew to the fans albeit on the instructions of aaron mckinney. yet he also told me explicitly on several occasions that he never raised a hand against matthew. i never struck him, never hit him. i never even pushed him or shook his hand. since he agreed to a plea bargain and never presented concrete evidence to support his version of events why should he be believed now? after visiting him, i arrived back in my hotel room more
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puzzled than ever by his matter-of-fact yet seemingly candid account of the crime that landed him in prison the rest of his life. i also felt a sense of confinement as i stared out the window at the swimming pools in the perfectly manicured gardens. that evening while drifting through the hotel casino in search of the restaurant hundreds of machines flushing their colored lights, the sensation of being trapped was exacerbated. after he and i met i heard a rumor that his first year in the penitentiary was a nightmare that he had been placed in segregation for his own protection. there was talk of a mom and dad
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taking ownership which he steadfastly denied to me. if true it was a humiliation. he clearly didn't want to be writing about that. after my initial visit with russell, i would not admit to anyone but myself the discomfort sparked in me as i got to know him personally or the empathy that i have begun to feel a. most of the time i retreated to a more detached professional standards in part to protect my work on the story but mostly from becoming attached. at age 25 with two life sentences and a reputation as a contemptible and highgate keller, russell's predicament was nothing if not bleak. i think that will do if for some of the readings right now.
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any questions? going back to how the media handled this, the story of the murder changed significantly in fairly quick time when it went from a robbery that got way out of hand to a hate crime. national media had really set up on laramie yet but the story picked up significant context in the form of this narrative that we are talking about coming and did a pretty short fashion. and you write that quoting here that and its roots for matthew's friend had no firsthand knowledge of the crime felt compelled to begin contacting the media and organizations to create a narrative. what compelled them? >> that is a great question. first of all, the two friends of matthew that were talking about our walt and alex. at the time, walt as i mentioned earlier, was teaching at the university of wyoming. he was in his 40s.
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alex traub was a friend of matthew, close in age to matthew. alex traub that matthew in casper when matthew was about 15-years-old so they had known each other for quite some time. alex traub he knew for a few years but not as long. just to mention a couple of facts, walt and alex -- walt was contacted by dennis shepard. dennis shepard called him from saudi arabia when he got the news that matthew had been attacked. and walt and alex he was moved quickly from either the ivans in hospital and alex and walt immediately went down to the valley. in the book one of matthew's other friends had also gone to the hospital in the valley. they were immediately calling
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gay organizations in wyoming and colorado as well as the casper star tribune saying that very belief was that this was an anti-gay hate crime. i learned that they came to the office and, you know, kept saying matthew is gay and we don't want this fact to go unnoticed. deb thompson mentioned that they showed up saying the same thing. i did later learned that alex traub -- again i interviewed him. i tracked him down at that time in rochester new york and flew there to meet him. alex admitted that he had a problem of methamphetamine, that, you know, he didn't want to go on the record talking about any of matthew's drug use. but alex was significant because almost immediately after the
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crime happened there were two different police report that mentioned when alex was questioned initially he told police that matthew had gotten involved with cocaine and methamphetamine's when he was living in denver. again these are records that were sealed that were not available for the journalists to look at. i learned later and found it curious the family didn't allow alex and walt into the church in casper for the funeral. but they took this and ran with it and they ended up within days of the crime they were in washington, d.c. on the steps of the capitol with a number of politicians and ellen did generous in her then drove friend ann hashe.
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but their motives were, but they have no direct knowledge of the crime as you mentioned and they do say that in the buck. as far as i know they had no direct knowledge of the crime. alex certainly knew about the drug use and walt knew since he was 15 he was also aware of other problems in his history. cynics of the narrative has been established in by the media that it is a hate crime. why was there or why is there a reluctance among the media to break away from a narrative once it is established? the drug rumors surfaced within i think probably a few days. there was plenty of downtime for the reporters to go out and flush those rumors out between the court proceedings, if they only look into it.
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the only reporter that looked into it seriously was joann that wrote a long piece for the harper's magazine. harpers magazine. and that piece was published before the trial. but again, she was really hampered by the witnesses and court records. but i will say that joann -- when i began to look into these areas she was extremely generous and went back to some of her reporting notes indicate me some leads i was able to person. one for example was with ryan bob a fellow that is a friend of aaron that traded at 357 magnum that became the murder weapon. he is someone i was able to track down and he acknowledged to me he had been getting high on methamphetamine with aaron
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for days prior to the crime. he and his now wife had gone to his apartment along with kristin price and the four of them have been doing math just a few days before the crime. it's been very interesting to trace how the story took off att any mentioning of methamphetamine at the time was minimal. it could com did come up a yeara little bit during the trial but by then as far as the public was concerned this was an anti-hate crimes. as to make any suggestion that this was anything but a hate crime would have resulted in someone bringing up the idea being very harshly criticized. >> i think that's true and i've certainly experienced that myself. now i think people are more
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receptive. 15 years have passed. for years i can say that in the early years i was reporting this i have many colleagues and friends who would say why are you doing this? why are you digging into something like this? and i mean there are many answers but just to say that this is as a journalist and also as a gay man human complexities matter and it behooves us to understand if we are serious about dealing with this kind of violence and hatred in its many forms but look at the complexities and understand what happened. >> the press also made attempts to embellish the story of little bit. talk about the storylines the press tried to push i think in particular the one about how he was hung crucifixion style.
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>> that started pretty on in one of the early press conferences. someone suggested that he would have been crucified. that he had been stronger up and i remember at the time cnn illustration of the philadelphia inquirer and it literally shove someone crucified on the fence and that took off very quickly. a year after the murder happened, judy shepard was addressing a national conference of journalists and she said -- and i'm paraphrasing here but the essence was i tried to take away that same persona. he was described as being tied to the fans in the manner of christ which really didn't happen but nobody seems to want to write about how it really did happen. but, you know, it was a very big tabloid image that's when the "vanity fair" published it was
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called the crucifixion of matthew shepard. there were many inaccuracies. ie render dissecting a paragraph in the "time" magazine coverage and i found six errors in one paragraph of the "time" magazine and i could mention many other things. they were described as tall muscular men. there was the headline in the "washington post" that said that matthew had been burned at the fence. the suggested as he had been burned with cigarettes to be tortured. that's never happened. there is a long list and i go into some of them in the book about the ways in which, you know, in the face of the facts there was a great deal of mythologizing and that crucifixion that is so powerful i think it really struck. >> a question from the audience.
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>> i would like to thank you for going the direction you did when you started this investigation. and this is a bizarre situation. i was supposed to meet with my nephew tonight to work on a computer over in cheyenne and i heard in the radio that this was going on and this has been a point of interest in my life for a while how this all went and this is just absolutely crazy. when i asked a little bit ago about you interviewing people i just found out tonight that my nephew has been in three months with russell and talked at great length with him. and what was his name, aaron mckinney was extremely anti-semitic and he was also
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diagnosed as schizophrenic and that plagued the relationship between aaron and russell a locked and they were actually at the bar that night looking for somebody else in particular when they ran into matthew shepard and they were both coming down off of the drugs i guess in a hostile and angry a lot of things. but like i said this is crazy because i found out and i called my nephew and i said i'm not going to make our appointment tonight and i mentioned where i was going and he said you're never going to believe this. in 2007 is when he was in the wyoming state pen with russell. and i just wonder when you talk about interviewing and stuff did
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you ever find out the being diagnosed schizophrenic and that was two of the major problems? >> let me say this i know that aaron mckinney was treated with a number of drugs soon after he was arrested at the jail for a variety of things. he was on suicide watch and he was treated for a variety of psychological issues. i'm not familiar with the diagnosis of schizophrenia. as far as the comments, he had cultivated this kind of bad boy attitude he associated with data boy rap that kind of fit with somfits withsome of that cultur. he called people bitches and
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hoes and nigger and things like that. but i've never seen anything and i've certainly never heard him say anything of an anti-semitic nature. what i do know is the surgeon who had reformed and his mother died as a result of the surgery i believe that it was doctor shrine that he had attacked. aaron mckinney was a very confused young man and fancied himself as a gangster in the way that some of those rap stars and hip-hop guys do. i can't say enough because it's not something that i've experienced directly with him. >> excuse me one second. i want you to be part of the question and process.
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>> he was supposed to be a part of this. >> actually, we ended up being redundant because he's giving a good job on the number of questions and things. i'm the publisher from the boomerang and just going as far as the question and answer period i moved to wyoming in 2001 from idaho so i came onto the story long after the fact. i came in and a member of you that i have seen before i tended to assume that what i heard from the national media wasn't really
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the whole story or what i assume happened. so, i have been interested in both and what steve has had to talk about. anyway, if we go on with the question and answer, i would ask that you -- [inaudible] make sure that it's in the form of a question, please. it was actually a quick statement. to verify that it wasn't a hate crime against a gay my nephew said when he got in the door shut and russell looked at him and so i hope you're not gay because i don't want to have to kill another person and then he laughed and said don't worry that has nothing to do with what we did. the implication was matthew
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shepard being gay had nothing to do with the reason why they killed him. >> i do agree with that. so anyway that relieved him of the fear because that's what he said as i don't want to have to kill another person. and then he said don't worry. that's not why we did it. >> we can juggle back and forth here. please, we have other questions if people would come up to the microphone. while we are waiting for somebody else to show up, one of the things from the perspective of the daily newspaper journal is your book and reporting and projects depend a lot more heavily on anonymous quotes and unsubstantiated as far as the
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things -- and i know that it is a different genre but could you explain to us a little bit about how you make the decisions of what you're going to include, what you look for to determine the credibility of the people that are telling you things. >> first of all, just to say when you say unsubstantiated, they are not unsubstantiated in the sense that the sources i have named in the book fo buck m i have used a pseudonym or anonymous source had been invented many times including when i was at abc news. every single reporting note and every contact was gone through by a team of lawyers at the news and there was a process that happened with my publisher. there is no source i have used in the book that is not named that hasn't been backed up with additional information but let
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me offer a little bit more of an explanation. in the book at the end of the book there are 112 named sources that i spoke with over the course of my research over the many years. in the buck, there are what i say is a handful of people for whom i gave sue the -- pseudonyms and anonymity in the record. i began this work of long time ago and following the crime in 2000 and 2002 i have to explain to people that the order was no longer in place and they could actually talk without the fear of repercussions that the reason that i used some of the anonymous sources is tha said fe thing there for only willing to talk with the on the condition of anonymity and that certainly includes some people on one side
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of the wall that involved in the illicit activities of the variety of kinds that they were also people in the law enforcement but i was fortunate over time several people in the law enforcement were willing to give me information and cooperate with me. but let's be honest, this was a very dangerous story to report. at the time i started going into the methamphetamine underworld and we are dealing with the people that were higher up on the food chain than aryan mckinney and shepard it was dangerous and i won't read one of the passages but there's a place in the book where there was a very close call where i met with the source in rock springs but in the first part of the meeting that took place in a pretty desolate truck stop. and even though i had interviewed him previously, i
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found myself then set up by two cars that backed in on either side of us and i had to get out of there as quickly as i could. but when i say this was a dangerous people, the people in law enforcement, some of them that helped me a few of them are still working in law enforcement today. and again, i ensure that most of you notice here that you have several agencies. you have the albany county sheriff's office and the police department, the division of chemical investigation. you've got the dea and the fbi and in the shepard case there was a firearm involved so you had alcohol, tobacco and firearms. i wasn't willing to expose any of the people that helped me with this story whether it was people on one side of the law or the other side. that's what i can say is every single source i used in the book
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has been vetted and i had to show information that was supported about the sources and substantiated. a couple sources in public with whom i used to pseudonyms these were people that we carried for 2020's story. and maybe be in the final story it was only a 30 or 452nd clip but we had filmed a two-hour interview. i use the material in the book that comes from official transcripts that were vetted by the attorneys and top executives at abc and my publisher that has been scrupulous about wanting to know where everything came from and seeing the material that backs it up. is there a question somewhere?
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>> i have a couple of comments in a request for you. i read the book one time thoroughly, and i've gone back and marked the passages. in the book there is a passage i believe, and correct me if i'm wrong, about something that he said from prison. i remember that he said i'd be leave that he said he was better off. but my question i is didn't he y something about how bad he felt that he really did deserve to be there russell henderson was buts guilty of only keeping his mouth shut? >> it is a short quote. let me see if i can have it.
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this was in a filmed interview with aaron mckinney. he spoke with unexpected candor about his accomplice. it's really hard for me to talk to him to see him in this situation knowing that i'm the one that put him here. i remember that guy's life. he was a good kid, squeaky clean. he didn't do anything. the only man that he is guilty of is keeping his bow shot -- keeping his mouth shut.
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my comment is how are you going to continue making this point that yes there was an accomplice but also a killer? and what are the prospects do you think for russell? obviously he cannot get a retrial because he never had a trial. he was talked into a plea bargain against his will and with the threat of a death sentence over his head, where can this go? and i realized there is a lot. no one knows at this point. but in the best of circumstances what can be accomplished.
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this plays out a whole different story. this woman here i just met her today. jane lives in tennessee and got in touch a few months ago. she wrote an article online ibb that was pj media. we have corresponded a little bit. let me say a few simple facts. the process in terms of time there is no opportunity in the peel. but just as one person when i began this site was under the assumption that these men were equally involved in this crime. i do understand what the felony
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murder statute is and if someone can be found guilty of murder even if they physically defend participate in the murder itself. but they were an accomplice and that under wyoming law that's what he was convicted of. but i will say very personally, i was so struck by the difference not only in their actions in relationship to the crime, but i can say now that he had a motive for hurting matthew shepard. i believe russell henderson realized there was a robbery that took place when they left the bar, i don't think that russell henderson was aware at all of the previous relationship between aaron mckinney russell shepard. he wasn't a dealer. there was no evidence whatsoever but he did note erin was dealing and they supply to the whole group of friends.
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i understand what the law is morally speaking. that is a different issue because i would say that i'm troubled by the fact that aaron mckinney took a 357 magnum and smashed it into matthew shepard's skull between 16 to 18 times. those were fatal wounds that caused his death. ..
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>> in a 24-hour period that included the attack. this happened on a tuesday night. the attack on matthew. on monday night, aaron broke into his cousin, dean mckinney's, house. he was looking for a friend who he claimed, a fellow that aaron claimed owed him money for drugs. this was a fellow that aaron had beaten up before, and when he lunged for this guy, the other guys who were in the house pulled aaron off him. this was -- but he was intending to really hurt this guy. obviously, the attack on matthew shepard was by far the most severe crimes, injuries were fatal. but now you have russell henderson in the course of the beating of matthew shepard who attempts to stop it, gets struck, and russell had seen aaron peat up other people -- beat up other people. he stepped back and withdrew. matthew's tied to the fence. they leave, and they go downtown the a residential -- to a
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residential area, and this is minutes later. they get into a scuffle with two young hispanic guys, and aaron goes to the truck and gets the murder weapon, and he brings it back, and he now strikes one of the young hispanic kids across the head x. the fellow had a wound that ran completely across his skull. there was a picture, i think, in "vanity fair" or harper's of, you know, the wounds that the fellow suffered, and he ended up in the hospital that night also being treated. so one question i would ask is, what was driving aaron mckinney? why did aaron mckinney assault four males in a 24-hour period? three of them were straight males and one was gay. and this, you know, the assaults on the three straight males were little talked about, and the attack on path knew shepard balm an anti-gay -- became an
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indiana-gay -- anti-gay hate crime. >> hi there. >> hello. >> thanks for writing the book. my question is that i think everyone no heart how they -- matter how they felt about the crime on either side of the aisle in laramie or nationally appreciates your investigative nature for finding the truth of what really happened, but are you concerned that any misguided people will take what you wrote in the book and create a new kind of false narrative where they say, well, see? there wasn't a problem with homophobia in this country or in the world today, and have you seen that, and what would your response be to someone who seems to hold that misguided attitude? >> well, first of all, this fall i toured around the country to 32 cities and towns x so tonight in laramie this is number 33.
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but i've had a chance to talk with people all around the country. i've done about 45 radio interviews. and the radio interviews have come from radio hosts across the political spectrum. and i've made it very clear that i do not want to be part of politicizing what is in the book. i didn't write the book for that reason. and, yes, there have been some people on the extremes that have been misguided in the way they've interpreted this. but i will say that there have also been, you know, there's been a lot of very constructive and positive reflection that has happened on the left including from a number of gay journalists who have written very positively about what i'm addressing in the book. and there have also been people, there was a very fine be piece on -- fine piece on the american conservative web site, and, you know, andrew sullivan, the daily dish, has, you know, covered my work on this pretty extensively.
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so i have found that there are intelligent, thoughtful commentaries across the political spectrum, but there have been a couple of people on the margins that have tried to use this book to score political points. and that's not what the message of in this book is. and is -- of this book is. and as i go on, you know, talking about the book -- which i think will continue because the paperback is coming out in the fall -- that i will really emphasize that point. but i would just like to make one additional comment, and that is that, you know, this was a horribly violent, a grotesquely violent crime. but it is, you know, the easy way out. we can feel heroic by feeling sad about what happened to matthew shepard. it takes more courage, okay, to look at the complexities of this and to understand what really happened here, to try to understand who was matthew shepard, who was, who is russell
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henderson, who was aaron mckinney, and how did this horrible tragedy happen? again, if we're soars about preventing these -- serious about preventing these thing, we need to understand that. so part of my message is let's be courageous. let's look at the complexities of this. and there's a tragedy here, but it's not just matthew's tragedy. as i've pointed out, there's a tragedy for russell henderson, okay? there's a tragedy for aaron mckinney, and there's a tragedy for all the families involved. and i think i would urge all of us, including myself, to try to go move a little deeper into this. because that's where the challenge is. you know, having some courage and system compassion to look -- some compassion to look at what really brought this about rather than reducing it to this black and white scenario the way the national media did. >> thanks. >> hello. >> hi there. >> hi. i have a question about media
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and media portrayals. >> yes. >> i'm wondering why we're being filmed tonight and who's doing it. >> okay. [laughter] >> and what it's going to be used for. >> sure. [laughter] this is c-span on cable television, and they cover authors and book events, and i was fortunate that c-span when i began my tour in san francisco, they came because the book was viewed as controversial, and there was going to be conversation and discussion. so they filmed. and two days ago they said they'd like to come and film the event in laramie, particularly to hear some of the conversation that would happen around the book. >> so we'll be on tv? [laughter] >> it will, it will be on national tv. i don't know when, but fairly soon. so if you check the schedule for c-span, it's a book show. and hopefully, you know -- [laughter] i can tell you it's not the nsa that's here doing this. [laughter] as far as i know.
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[laughter] >> since i came -- oh, i'm sorry. since i came as far as i did, i'm going to ask or make another comment. >> hey, can i ask just that you give her the first shot and then you do the next one? okay? >> absolutely. >> just because i want to give everyone a chance. >> you mentioned earlier when you were talking about the media and how the story took off, and you also mentioned in the book that the hate crimes bill was being held up and that the white house was pretty interested in getting that passed. so i wonder if while you were doing your research if you found any connection with the agenda setting that took place coming from some political pressure? i wonder if you found anything like that. >> yes, i did. and once again, i'd like to say that -- is this mic on? can you hear? good, because i'm getting a
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little reverb here. in my opinion, you know, after researching this, i think this was manager that was multiply determined. there were a number of things going on at the same time. but the national context was this happened exactly at the time that bill clinton was in his worst moment in the monica lewinsky scandal. the week before this crime happened, okay, kenneth starr released about 4,000 pages of the linda tripp/monica lewinsky tapes, the triplets. transcripts. and the week, the following week, the week that this crime actually happened, was the week that the house of representatives took a vote for full impeachment inquiry of bill clinton. now, i am not saying that i have found information that there was some conspiracy in washington, but let's face it, when a president, when a president is in a crisis, you know, in a
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crisis and there's a possibility that he could be impeached and lose his presidency, one thing that he's going to do is shore up all his key constituencies, okay in and also present a picture to the public of him as a leader, okay? personally, i have problems when a politician, a president is making political statements, okay, about a case before the police have completed an investigation, suggesting that there's a direct connection between this crime when matthew was still alive and passing a hate crime bill in congress. i will say that i had similar problems -- and this is not a reflection on the case -- but with trayvon martin. i thought, okay, there's a jury case here. let the jury, you know, look at the facts and make some decisions here. but there was so much, you know, there were so many advance decisions in the media, and also i thought it was inappropriate. i voted for obama, but i thought it was inappropriate that obama
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was making statements about trayvon martin before the jury could, you know, could really, you know, fully examine the case. but this was a particularly bad time. that year, 1998, for the gay community. months before the attack on matthew, the gay community was really feeling under siege because there was a strong movement, you know, if you are gay, you can go straight if you go to some, you know, weekend seminars and, you know, at the time senate majority leader trent lott was on television saying gay people are sinners according to his reading of the bible. pat robertson saying, you know, homosexuality is the last step in the decline of gentile civilization. and so when this happened, you know, when this event happened, when matthew was attacked, it was seized upon, okay? this is, you know, this is what this kind of hatred or this kind of prejudice leads to.
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but there was a kind of hysteria attached to the reaction of some of those people. i remember a playwright, tony cushner. i have great add admiration fors work. he wrote angels in america, but he made some ridiculous statements within days of this attack on matthew. he was blaming religious right conservatives and specific leaders, he wrote a piece claiming that these people were responsible for matthew's death, and that's just bologna. >> steve, someone we haven't talked about tonight is cal aruka. >> yes. what would you like to know? >> a guy that received a lot of prsh from a lot of -- a lot of pressure from a lot of different angles to get a conviction and do so very publicly.
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>> and what? >> well, what i'm asking is talk about your interactions with cal, the ares that you recognized particularly from the clinton administration, but i think also here locally to make sure that this was handled correctly. >> yes. well, i think and it goes back to what i was saying about this being multiply determined. the clinton administration -- and this was coming largely through janet reno, the attorney general then -- there was real concern that this event in laramie could explode into a national catastrophe. there was concern -- remember that oklahoma city bombing happened under bill clinton. the waco incident happened under bill clinton. and there was a concern that the polarizing around this case could perhaps lead to some explosion of violence in
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laramie. i know that at the very beginning of the case there was talk, the federal government was talking about prosecuting this case as a federal case, and cal aruka was standing in the background. and after a couple of weeks, you know, i don't know if it was two weeks, three weeks, the federal government then basically said we're bowing out, and we want you to prosecute the case. there was also a kind of a promise that was made veryally that the federal government would support -- verbally that the federal government would support the prosecutions. and, in fact, other than a little bit of help with forensic testing, the support from the federal government never came through. but cal aruka's someone who, while this was going on, he did indeed face death threats. they were called into the congressional office. there was a bullet fired into his living room window at home when he had two kids at home. you know, his kids had to be
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protected by federal agents because they couldn't ride the school bus anymore, and this is not, this is something that is, you know, i have sub stand soughted very carefully -- substantiated very carefully. what i will say is that i find cal aruka, you know, i've known him personally now for a long time, and i know some -- i'm familiar with some of the politics in laramie. i have found him around this case to be a man of maximum integrity. that if i asked him questions, he never evaded anything. if i was looking for a document, he pointed me in the direction to find it. but you have to realize that when you're prosecuting a criminal case, okay, and people have asked me this question, cal aruka steered away there the mention of methamphetamine while case was going on. and he did that because he believed that the defense was going to use that in a strong way. they used it not as strongly as, ultimately, as he thought they would. but he has been so frank.
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he has acknowledged on the record -- and this is a paraphrase of a quote, but he said if aaron mckinney had not become involved with methamphetamine, matthew shepard would be alive today. was there political pressure on cal aruka? absolutely. and i think it came -- some of it was local. i know that a number of politicians called him, and bill clinton made it very clear that he wanted the death penalty for these two young men. i'm not saying that cal aruka was following what the president wanted, but this was a case where there were big political stakes. and i'm absolutely certain that he felt that while it was going on. >> talk about the conversation that cal had with matthew's parents when they asked not to seek the death penalty. >> okay. this is, you know, reported in the book. at the end of the, at the end of the trial of aaron mckinney
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after he was found guilty, what would have happened then here in wyoming is you go on then to the penalty phase, okay? and the defense attorneys, aaron mckinney's defense attorneys, wanted to have a conversation with the shep asker. and so they -- shepards. so they did have that conversation. dennis shepard was not keen on being there, but judy shepard did talk with them and the lawyers. and there was a deal struck that aaron mckinney would not go on to the penalty phase, okay, where he could potentially face the death penalty. and there were some conditions that aaron mckinney agreed to as part of, you know, a sentencing deal, a sentencing agreement. that he would not, he would waive his right to all future appeals, that he would not -- he would refrain from talking to the media, that if he made any money from his story in the future, that it would go to the matthew shepard foundation. there were several conditions. cal aruka in the conversation
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you're describing with dennis and judy shepard, cal expressed frustration about not going on to the penalty phase. i can say, this is my interpretation -- maybe cal aruka would say something else -- i think he is committed to following the laws of the state of wyoming as they exist. but i think he also feels that capital punishment is something to be reserved for the most extreme of instances. i think he wanted to go on to the penalty phase. i think that the shepard family may have had their own reasons not to go on to the penalty phase, because when you do, information that was not admissible during the trials would be admissible during the penalty phase. and at that point people might have learned a lot more about the case that they never order about during the trial. -- that they never heard about during the trial.
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>> that was, i was going to reference that. the book says had the case proceeded to the penalty phase as required by wyoming law, previously-concealed information about matthew, aaron and russell which had been inadmissible during the trial could have been presented to the jury. >> yes, indeed. >> okay. i had another question that i wanted to ask you in reference to the drug angle. the gay panic defense that mckinney used, a diversion to protect the drug suppliers that he worked for? >> yes. well, a couple of things. aaron mckinney, you know, had been bisexually active, but at the time this crime took place he had a live-in girlfriend, kristin price. they had a four-month-old child, and, you know, a case like this happens and now suddenly you're going to tell the world all of your secrets. so the gay panic defense was part of his cover, okay?
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not just of his sexual activities, but also aaron mckinney had drug suppliers, people that supplied him with methamphetamine, that he would then go out and sell. and some of these people had been in trouble with the law before, but some of them were out, you know, functioning and doing fine. and aaron mckinney was very reluctant. and anytime i got close, because i learned who some of the suppliers were, he would get very angry about me using their names. so i did in the book indicate some things about his suppliers which really came from public records of, you know, i learned from this part from aaron, but a lot of aaron's cohorts who were also involved with supplying drugs provided me with some names and, you know, i checked out their records, and that's what i put in the book. oh, sure. >> hi. i also want to thank you for writing the book and dismissing the rumors that it was a hate
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crime. but i am really concerned and wondering, curious if you and cal and the rest of the people who are involved in the book are still, the ones who had threats against them, are they still worried about the threats that may, you know, come down the road? especially with you being here in wyoming again. not encouraging it or advocating it, but i just wondered are you still concerned of any threats following writing the book and coming here again? >> well, one thing that you learn in journalism, you know, and i think this applies to many areas of life, if you -- if i give my word to someone, i am going to live by my word. i'm not going to opportune u.s.ically exploit a source where i agree that the terms of them talking to me is that i not
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use their name and then go use their name. and, you know, there were a few dangerous moments here, okay? for me as an investigator. but i felt the truth was important. and, you know, there have been times along the way where i've not been alone. i had a producing and reporting colleague when i was working at abc news. abc news has all of my reporting notes, and they know people named and unnamed, and i, again, my goal is i'm not law enforcement agent, law enforcement officer. my job is not to go investigate people and get them arrested and prosecute them for crimes. do i think there are people that are unhappy about what i've written in the book? yes. but i also think it's my job as an investigative journalist to excavate and report as much of the truth as i can. i think in our culture right now there are many areas where we could capitulate to fear, and i
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think this is a particular moment in america beyond the matthew shepard case where we really need to have some courage and bravery around what our rights are in this country and standing up for them. and dealing with issues that we think are important, regardless of our political, our political persuasion. so i'm not trying to get myself physically hurt, but i think by respecting people on all sides, you know, of this case that, you know, i to this day no one that that has spoken to me has gotten in any direct trouble or been retaliated against for my reporting. and that's one thing i'm proud of, because if i gave them my word i would not hurt them, i'm not going to do it. >> thank you very much. >> you're welcome. [applause]
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>> stephen, thank you for coming to laramie. and i, too, have read the book. and after hearing you tonight, i'm questioning and curious why in the ad it had to be placed "this event is not being endorsed by the university of wyoming"? how did that come about? >> it's just a procedural thing. someone who helped organize the event learned from someone at the university that if it's not had the t an official university -- if it's not an official university event, if you're going to post notices on campus, that they ask you to put something that a just says this event is not endorsed by the university of wyoming. so just out of respect, that was a condition under which we could post some fliers, and we did post fliers, and i wanted to respect their policy. yes. >> yeah. i was just wondering, given the
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national pressure on this case from the very beginning that the night that it happened, in any of your investigation did you find any evidence of any malfeasance on part of the laramie police department, the albany county sheriff's department, the prosecution, da's office or any other agency on up to the federal level? is there any evidence that evidence was ignored, manipulated, thrown away or any other, in any other way to make this case and the evidence fit the national narrative? >> with i'm going to answer that many many a -- the way i like to answer these things is really through my direct personal experience. because as you all know here, there have been so many rumors
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taffe swirled around this case -- that have swirled around this case at the time it happened and in subsequent years. but i'll tell you a couple things that really troubled me. there was evidence in the case, many things that were collected. the rope that was used to tie matthew shepard to the fence, there were a number of things that were collected by police. and one day russell henderson had filed an appeal, and it was within the specified guidelines under which you could file an appeal, and there were some questions i had about the evidence. and i had someone here in laramie who accompanied me over to the laramie police department. and we asked to see some specific pieces of evidence. and the evidence technician came out and explained to us that that evidence had been disposed
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of. now, this was in the period during which russell henderson could continue to appeal. and i had heard something thing about the ropes that were used, and there were a couple of other questions i had. so that troubled me that evidence had been thrown in a trash dumpster and gotten rid of before the appeal process was over. there was something else. i had been told by some sources about something involving matthew's shoes. and there were -- and there's no reason for me to name them, but there were a couple of officers that kept promising that i could, along with my partner at abc news, inspect the shoes. and there were a series of excuses, oh, we've moved us as, the evidence is in the back of a trailer. but it was promised. and this was over months that then went into years. and it was really made clear that they would never let us look at matthew's shoes. so there were a couple of instances like that that i found
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troubling. there were some records that were public records involving, for example, one of the suppliers. and every time i requested -- this was, in this this case happened a few years after matthew, but it was someone that matthew had known from depp very ask was involved -- from denver and was involved with. every time i asked to see that file, which was a public record, there was an excuse as to why i couldn't see it. and finally, a judge here in laramie, i told him about it, and he said there's no reason you can't see that file. and he just walked into the file room, got the record, you know, looked at it to be sure there wasn't anything of a sealed nature that i couldn't see, and let me look at the record. and it did help advance my reporting. but there were a number of roadblocks like that along the way. i can't say it was conspirator l y'all in that a bunch of law enforcement people sat down and said let's not let him see this, but they knew the direction i
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was going in and what i was looking at, and i think they went out of their way to make that hard. >> did you see any evidence, though, of criminal, actual criminal activity where they threw away evidence because -- [inaudible] not so much your investigation, but just the overall investigation? did you see anything or have any reason to feel suspicious about how the evidence was handled, not just what you were given, but how everything was handled? >> in this case i just mention the physical evidence, okay? but there are other forms of evidence including statements of witnesses or statements of the perpetrators or participants. when aaron mckinney gave what became -- it was a recorded statement. it was really the one recorded statement he gave. -30 -- the transcript was 33 pages long. and there was one mention of
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methamphetamine. and aaron lied and said he hadn't been involved with methamphetamine for several months. and one of the police officers said, but you have been involved with this in the past, and aaron mckinney said, yes. the subject of methamphetamine was dropped. that was the one mention in a 33-page confession. never brought up again. and just to say that aaron to mckinney was -- aaron mckinney was well known to law enforcement for his involvement with meth am fete heene and drugs. >> thank you. >> so why wasn't methamphetamine pursued and put into the record. any other questions? >> steve, i'm pretty much at the end of my questions. >> okay. >> but i did want to offer this. the book does delve into some pretty sensitive territory, and i think sometimes we forget that as sensationalized as this was, after all, it's still someone's
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child. >> yes. >> and the paths we all take in life whether, you know, you end up dealing drugs sometimes doesn't end up very flattering. the portrait you write of matthew shepard isn't always the narrative that the national media has established. you said you wanted this book not to -- you wrote this book not to set off a new round of controversy, but to prompt discussion. how has that succeeded? >> well, i think, ray, that, again, based on the experience i've had of traveling to every region of the country in connection with this book, there's been a big appetite for really talking about it and talking about the complexities involved with this. and i think that, you know, we're always evolving, and we're growing. and i think that something as simple as a tv series "breaking bad" in the last five years has made the public more aware of
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what methamphetamine is in a way that 15 years ago they weren't. i think that, you know, and i'm saying this, too, as a gay man that i think we need to be able to deal with complexities. we are human beings just like everyone else, and we suffer from some of the same things. we have difficulties in relationships, we deal with, you know, alcohol and substance abuse and all of these things. and i, one reason that i wrote the book is because when i looked at the public record and i looked at what, the territory that other journalists had covered, when i looked at the laramie project, matthew shepard was a conspicuous absence in the public narrative. the same few set of facts were repeated over and over, you know? he was interested in politics and human rights, he spoke a few languages, you know? very -- the same basic set of facts were repeated over and
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over. and you're absolutely right, he is someone's child, okay? but again, i go back to, you know, and i say this as someone looking back at matthew's life as a younger gay man, this was a tragedy, okay, that happened. and it was a tragedy that affected many people. and i have seen a lot of productive discussion in the body politic at large around this book, but also in the gay community. there's been a lot of discussion about it, and i'm really happy that that discussion is taking place. >> at what point did you say to yourself i've got a book here, and then at what point did you say to yours i'm going to make a lot of people upset about what i'm going to write? [laughter] >> i mean, i knew that this was going to be controversial from the very beginning. i knew that, you know, going back 10 or 12 years. it was obvious when the new york times magazine killed the story. i mean, at abc news when we were doing this, we were besieged by
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some activist organizations before the show ever aired. they wanted to come in and look at the cut of what we were going to put on the air to give us feedback before it went on the air because they were concerned about what we were suggesting in it. you know, i knew that it would generate controversy, okay? but i felt that if the controversy really led to some productive conversation, then it was worth doing it, that i'm doing my job as a journalist. >> steve, i'm out of questions. >> steve, you have gotten to this point in everything, i guess the question after 12 years of pursuing all this, where to from here? is there more to be done? is there more of the story that you want to pursue? has the book reached what you wanted it to be and what you
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hoped it to be? basically, what do you have, what are you looking down the road at now? >> well, first of all, the book -- this has been a steady process, you know? at the very beginning when the book came out, october 1st, there was a lot of reaction just to the idea of the book even before people had a chance to read it. but over the last four months, the in the book has been growing steadily. i am adding a, you know, small amount of new material. there will be a new epilogue for the paperback edition that comes out in the fall. and the book, at the same time, will be published in england, australia, germany and japan. so there will be another round of discussion taking place. that will be an english language version the those places. there's talk of a not for abc news 20/20 but of another hour that will look at some of the
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new material that i have revealed in the book. i've been with this for a long time. the story means a lot to me, but i'm also starting to get to work on some new projects. you know, this was a long and winding journey, and i'm, i am also a screen writer, and i make documentary films, and i'm actually looking at a couple of new projects right now, sort of deciding what's next. i've been reading screenplays, i've been reading books to think about maybe adapting something, and there's some talk of some documentaries, so we'll see. glenn, where are you? [laughter] come on up here. you can give us a good wrap-up. [laughter] >> one more question here. >> excuse me. i want to say that the conclusion of in this book with -- of this book is exactly the story that was given to law enforcement at the time of the crime when they go around
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interviewing people. that is the story. from doc in his limo, aaron mckinney chauffeuring matthew shepard to the gay bars in fort collins and denver, their drug purchases down there, bringing them up here is and selling. that was all the story in town at the time of the crime. and it was not even addressed. and it was overlooked. that's the crime. now, i'm on a, been on a no-cal diet for 30 year, but i'm glad to hear some positive things about cal, and you did a good job standing up for the guy. but if you knew the whole story, you'd have a different opinion. but we've got a worse county attorney in there now than cal ever thought of being with. [applause] [laughter] >> live and learn, i guess. >> if you don't know who i -- i've owned fireside for 30
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years. >> oh, is that right? are you a mickelson? >> ike a mickelson. >> i know matt quite well. >> matt is a super kid. i've known matthew shepard, i've known the other boys, you know, i've served them drinks, and i know that story was wrong. ask my son matt. he was managing the bar all the time. and -- >> well, what you just said is certainly true, and that -- it was that disjuncture between what i heard from many people in laramie about what this case was versus what the national media said about it and what the president of united states was saying saying about it. i felt it was my duty to investigate it, because there was a great gap and a disjuncture between what people in laramie were telling me and what the official story was. >> well, you did a hell of a job, and you came to the facts and a super conclusion. >> thank you very much. [applause]
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>> we do have another question. >> one more question. >> i'm so sorry, but -- [inaudible] >> sure. >> i really appreciate you talking about this. i moved here from new york city, and everybody said, oh, my god, laramie. and i was like, there are more gay hate crimes per capita on the streets of new york city. so i really appreciate you just getting all this out and clarifying it. but as i'm sitting here, there is a lingering question for me about the factor of internalized homophobia and the fact that these two men, your reporting had a sexual relationship. and that the boy who was killed was somebody that he had a sexual relationship with. so while he had been violent with a number of people throughout the week, and maybe it's just because i've heard this story for so long, but for we a lingering question is why is it the boy that he was so violent with was gay and add had
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a sexual relationship -- and had had a sexual relationship, and how does internalized homophobia and maybe aaron's own shame play a part in the brutal nature of this particular interaction? >> okay. well, in the book i really talk about some of the complexities of aaron's views of his sexuality and his identity. i can't get inside his head in any kind of complete way. certainly, we know that in in internalized homophobia exists and, you know, there are many, many manifestations. but what i trace in the book is a very specific sequence of events that was related to where aaron mckinney was, the people that he owed money to, what he was doing as far as his own use in the week prior to this, and anyone that really understands the chemistry and the psychology involved with meth will tell you
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that when someone has used meth as long as aaron mckinney did and had been up for a week before this crime happened, that this completely fits the profile of what's called meth rage or meth-induced psychosis, okay? certainly, aaron mckinney -- if he was bisexual, he was struggling with some of those issues. and as many people would. but in this specific case on the night this crime happened, aaron mckinney was seeking to rob $10,000 worth of methamphetamine, six ounces. there was a shipment coming into town that night, and he believed that matthew shepard was going to be in possession of those six ounces. and that's what was driving him that night. yes. >> [inaudible] >> oh, i'm sorry. jane woodson. where are you? >> well, to wrap up, you as a journalist have learned many
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lessons, but i think it's worth just mentioning what we -- and i'm a journalist -- what we as consumers of the news, what lessons are there for us to learn as things like the trayvon martin, that whole scenario? msm is becoming increasingly politicized, increasingly more axes to grind. what should we as consumers of the news take away from this? it's taken you ten, over ten years to bring this truth to light. >> do you have any thoughts on what we might do as a journalist? [laughter] >> yes. [laughter] >> i want to hear them. >> well, i think there are alternative news sites that help balance the mainstream media,
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like "the new york times"; pj media, hot air, briitbart are all alternatives, and i am sure they don't always -- they have axes to grind also. but i do think that the fact that "the new york times" and a lot of these big morning dailies are losing subscriptions shows that people are losing faith in the reporting. and i just wish you'd comment on what you think the consumers of news should learn from just this. >> well, what i do is i look at many different sources. i don't go to sources because of my political interests. my political orientation.
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i look across the board. there are people that i can disagree with politically. for example, i consider andrew sullivan to be a friend, probably 80% of the time i disagree with him politically. but i know that he does his homework, and he's a serious journalist and a serious writer. i try to seek my information from many different places. but if the new york times tells me it's true, that doesn't mean i believe it's true. i definitely seek out independent sources on the internet and look for a variety of, you know, stories and different kinds of reporter -- different kinds of reporting. but i will say that, you know, my history is that my own political sympathies have tended to be on the left. but in this case with the shepard case, this is a case where there was a very clear liberal orthodoxy, and i know that many people have questioned my intent, but it's not the
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reporting they're questioning. it's just how dare you. >> well, you can tell after this why i wanted to bring stephen here tonight. when i was in fort collins, you know, this was just a breath of fresh air. and one of the things that i, you know, having worked with young people for 32 years, you know, the book, you know, we're looking at what happened that night in a different way. maybe laramie is not a gay-bashing type of community. but the other side of that, we have, you know, a drug problem that is out there, and, you know, it's one of those things that lurks back there, and so our young people are at risk.
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and, you know, i need to as a, as an administrator, retired administrator, i would like you as people of lawrmy to realize -- laramie to realize that, you know, the problem is still out there. it's just hidden. and so like with what stephen is doing here, i just would like -- and the whole idea on this thing was for us to be better informed. and i think after tonight we are, and i want to thank stephen for being here. he came a long ways -- >> i just say one other thing? i would like to thank mary garland and tilma and also dave and the staff here for helping to put together this event. i do have one final thing i want to say that just sort of came up, and i promise to keep it short. but, you know, i read a little
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bit about russell henderson, and one of the things that's been kind of lodged at me while i was on the tour is people have said, oh, are you an apologist for russell henderson etc. i'm not an apologist for russell henderson, but what i want to tell you is i have followed and tracked this man over the past 12 years. i attended when he got his ged can, i went to his graduation in prison in nevada. i visited him in prison in virginia. and i just want to give you a little report, because you're not going to find this in the newspaper. russell henderson's record over the last 12 years, 13 years is spotless, okay? he has been going to college in prison, and i have seen his grades, and they are straight as. he has been working in prison s. and here's someone who has two life sentences, and he is classified as medium security in prison which is virtually
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unheard of for someone convicted of this kind of crime. and i mention this because as a gay man, the way in this which this case ultimately resolved itself, there were, there was politics involved. and it's much easier to see this now. and i don't mean to second guess, but what i want to say is the tragedy that happened here was not just matthew shepard's. there was a horrible crime here, but here is a person i can tell you as a gay man, if i thought russell henderson was a homophobe or hated gay people, i would not be as a resulting him in prison -- visiting him in prison. i've interviewed deputy wardens, social workers that have had him in groups, and i will say i've had prison administrators to me this young man doesn't belong here. so if i can leave you with something, i'd like you to think about the way in which a tragedy
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like this ripples out over time and what the impact of that is. i just wanted to bear witness to that because what brought me to laramie was the tragedy of matthew shepard and the horrible violence inflicted on him and the hurt caused to his family. but i can say that as i've gotten to know russell, as i've a gotten to know his grandmother, as i i learned about what happened to russell's mother, cindy dixon, who was left by the side of the road and died and what happened in her case, i can say that this is something that i hope people here in laramie will think about and consider as far as in this case. >> that a being said -- [applause] >> we'd like to hear from you. tweet us your feedback,
6:49 pm >> president obama recently sent his proposed 2015 federal budget to congress for review. many light of its -- in light of its release and the debate to follow, booktv -- in the hour you'll see clips with phillip joyce, author of the congressional budget office, "the wall street journal"'s david wessel, author of "red ink," and oklahoma senator tom coburn, author of "the debt bomb" and "breach of trust." we begin with phillip joyce. the former congressional budget office analyst and current professor of management, finance and leadership at the university of maryland recounts the formation of the congressional budget office in 1974, its internal operations and the nonpartisan economic and budget information it provides to
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congress. >> host: when was the cbo formed? >> guest: cpo was formed in 974 and it was, in fact, a reaction to some of the perceived excesses. well, there were actual excesses by the nixon administration. it was part of an effort by the congress to try to reassert its role in the budget process. and as a part of that, they also created the budget committees and the budget resolution that if they were going to be equal players in the budget process, they really needed to have their own budget agency as opposed to relying on numbers that came from the executive branch, and that's really the reason for the cbo. >> host: and if you had to say yes or no, has the cbo been successful? >> guest: i think it's been phenomenally successful, and i think its success is mostly measured by the fact that i think if you talk to most people in the media and, indeed, most people if they're being honest with you on both sides of the aisle in the congress, they would say that the congressional budget office -- at least concerning the budget -- probably has the most credible
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numbers, the most credible information out there. and that was not a fore gone conclusion. it was not something that necessarily was destined to happen. in fact, if you had said to someone in 1974, okay, we're going to create a nonpartisan agency in the middle of the most partisan environment imaginable, is that going to work, i think an awful lot of people would have said no. but it was made to to work, and i think, you know, they worked hard on making it to work. but i think on that score it has certainly been successful. >> host: what's the cbo's mission? >> guest: cbo's mission is to provide nonpartisan information on the economy and the budget to the congress and really, increasingly, to the public as well. that was not as anticipated when the cbo was formed, but there's lots of access that individual members of the public and the media now have the cbo products
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that they did not have before because of the interwith net and other sources -- internet and other sources, and i think increasingly its mission has broadened really to include serving the public in addition to the congress. the nonpartisan nature of the cbo's work is very crucial, and the law that created the cbo, it said only that the director and the cbo staff should be appointed without regard to partisan affiliation. but the first directer who was alice rivlin who's just a giant of public service and someone who's still going strong at the age of 80 really created a culture that was very much moved from just the director and staff being appointed without regard to partisan affiliation to doing their work in a nonpartisan manner. >> host: who appoints the directorsome. >> guest: the director of cbo is appointed, actually, by the speaker of the house and the
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president pro tem of the senate, member of the majority party with the greatest amount of seniority. but practically speaking, it's really chairs and ranking members of the house and senate budget committees who are most responsible for selecting the cbo to director. there have been eight directors of cbo since its formation. four of them have been nominal democrats, four of them have been nominal republicans. what they all have in common is that they are, as alice rivlin once described herself, card-carrying middle of the roaders. so they are people who you would consider to be relatively moderate members of their parties even though they are nominal republicans and nominal democrats. >> host: who's the current director? >> guest: current director is doug elmendorf. he has been director for, i think this is his third year. and he was very, very active. what most people know about the cbo and director elmendorf
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probably know about him is that he was sort of all over the place during the debate on the obama health care reform. when cbo was really, became the sort of crucial arbiter of whether the health care reform would actually add to the deficit or subtract from the deficit. >> host: and, professor joyce, you write in your book that because of cbo they put off action on the health care bill for a year. >> guest: yeah, that's correct. if the health care reform had not been viewed as something that had to at least be deficit neutral, then i think cbo would not necessarily have had as important a role as it had. but once you say that one of the things that you're concerned about -- and really president obama himself elevated cbo to this stature by saying that he would not sign a bill that added to the deficit -- that really meant that it was a much higher hurdle for bills to get over than if that had not been true.
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and is, certainly, there were delays at various stages of the process because the congress was waiting to find out whether whatever their latest version was could sort of pass the cbo test. >> host: and doug elmendorf used to work for dick gephardt, didn't he? >> guest: i'm not sure of that. >> host: okay. >> guest: it's possible. >> host: now, once -- is there a professional staff as well at cbo that goes through administrations? >> guest: yes, there is, although interestingly it's not a professional staff like you would find in most federal agencies, well, this two respects. i suppose the first is that it's dominated by ph.d. economists which you would not find in your average federal agency. but the other is that the cbo staff actually work at the pleasure of the director. that is, a director could come in and just clean house on day one if they wanted to. and if that respect -- in that respect the relationship of the cbo staff to the cbo director is sort of like the relationship of a congressional staff to a
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member of congress. now, no director has ever come in and decided to clean house on day one because there's a lot of expertise, obviously, that resides in the cbo staff. so the practice has been for cbo staff to stay from one director to another, but that's really because that's what the directors have chosen to do. there was, actually, one case where when june o'neill who was the cbo director who was appointed just after republicans took back the congress in 1994, the sort of assumption was that she was going to come in and clean the place out. and the house republicans, at least the leadership in the house, very much wanted her to do that. they assumed that because the cbo staff had been there if for a long time -- for a long time under democratic rule that that must mean that they were giving, you know, comfort to the democrats. the senate republicans, particularly pete domenici who
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was the top republican on the senate budget committee, did not want that to happen and, in fact, she did not do that much to the surprise of some of the house republicans when she came in. >> host: how big is the congressional budget office, and what's their budget? >> guest: it is about 250 people. i think its budget is somewhere in the neighborhood of there are 25, $30 million. that's a sort of ballpark. but it's not a big agency. and it's, and, in fact, it has an awful lot more influence than you would think an agency of 250 people would have. >> host: now, why was alice rivlin so important in the early days of the cbo? entering i think she was important -- >> guest: i think she was important because she had a clear vision for what she wanted the agency to do. and she set out to make the organization in that um imagine.
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and -- image. and she was pretty tush bonn about it in -- stubborn about it in the sense that she had a vision. she was sometimes pushed by members of congress to move in a different direction, and she was pretty clear about the direction that she wanted to go in. and once she did that, she began to create a culture in the organization. and that, i think, is one of the most interesting parts to me of the story of cbo, is to take something -- not only the fact that it was an agency that was supposed to be nonpartisan in the middle of this very partisan environment, but also the fact that you have this organization that's starting from scratch. it's, you don't have a model necessarily to go from. all you've been told as the new director of cbo is create an organization and make it responsive to the congress in a nonpartisan manner. so in the first place, you've got to figure out what that means. and this is very clear. she brought people together to talk about how will we know if
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this has been a successful organization. but then she had to to out and hire people, and she had to coout and find these -- go out and find these people who she thought could work in an organization that, you know, that would realize this kind of vision. and that was an extraordinary thing to do. she was there for two terms. i think that made a big difference, that she was there for eight years. and so by the end of eight years, it really was relatively well established. however, it was still possible that the second director could come in and change things, the second director was a republican and his name was rudy penner. alan greenspan at the time called him a republican alice rivlin. and he behaved that way. that is, he came in, and he pretty much reinforced the things that, you know, she had said. and once that happened and then bob reischauer who's the next director followed him and did pretty much the same things, then they were sort of off and running in the sense that once
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you create a culture, you sustain it over 10 or 15 years, you know, now it's pretty well ingrained. .. cbo came up with an estimate that said the clinton health-care reform rather than a saving money which the administ


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